HTBLVA Spengergasse Vienna, 2012

Invited competition:
“Metamorphoses of space and time”, 2009–2012
(in collaboration with Arch. Willi Frötscher)
Interior courtyard design for the school HTBLVA für Textilindustrie und EDV
1050 Vienna, Spengergasse 20

Several buildings from different eras (19th, 20th and 21st century) were renovated, converted and built. Architect Otmar Hasler closes the chain of buildings with the glass connecting corridor of the laboratory, thus defining an elongated interior courtyard 125 metres in length. Our artistic design engages with these conditions, sparking off a dialogue with the structures of the architecture, for example the extremely elongated form and distinctive glass corridor. We lend artistic visibility to these architectural structures.

The sand-coloured asphalt floor covering creates a natural atmosphere, similar to that of an open landscape. The ornament (1860) along the glass corridor – applied in black colour to the asphalt flooring – connects the various historical eras of the building and makes reference to the school’s long history, embodying the idea of passing on traditions and knowledge and the intellectual and personal developments to which this may give rise. The ornamental lines begin at the old building with naturalistic motifs, the traditional form. They grow and stretch out over the entire length, finally overlapping, condensing and becoming distorted in the area of the new building. On the one hand, this serves to deconstruct the ornamentation (which is already an abstraction of natural elements), dissolving it into another abstraction. On the other, this metamorphosis alludes in turn to a time line from the past, heading for the future, that enables and encourages renewal.

Mirroring the lattice structure of the glass façade on the opposite side of the courtyard in the form of leafy trellises establishes a dialogue with this structure. The trellises are set apart from the buildings and used to grow wild grape. They form a filter screening off all obscuring structural necessities. A strip overgrown with grasses of varying heights opens up and lends contour to a “green” space towards the buildings. Existing trees were given leafy islands, with new trees also planted in islands with white-flowering grasses. This greenery allows people to observe the changing seasons in the courtyard. As with the ornamental time-trail, the aim with the trellises is once again to lend visibility to historical roots. In front of the oldest part of the school we integrated twelve of the school’s old window gratings into the trellis (upside down and tightly arrayed), thus creating a – metaphorical – cast-iron curtain. Their crafted form also features an abstraction of the plant motifs, with which we want to forge a link to the ornamental time-trail. The reflection of the ornament on the glass front of the façade duplicates the image of the ornament from the ground and the trellis opposite, visually expanding the physical constraints of the courtyard.

Willi Frötscher
Excerpt from opening speech, 2012

Willi Frötscher – born in Innsbruck, Tyrol, in 1962; graduated from the master class for architecture, Prof. Holzbauer, at the Academy of Applied Arts, Vienna (Mag.arch.) in 1986; 1987–89 studied Architecture at UCLA – University of California, Los Angeles (M.arch.); worked at various architectural firms in Vienna; 1994–98 University Assistant at Vienna University of Technology (Prof. Helmut Richter), since 2000 joint office with Christian Lichtenwagner, teaching assignments at Vienna University of Technology.

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